Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ligia Manuela Lewis / Sensation 1. – Conviction Series

Sensation 1. was performed in MU Theatre on the last day of L1dancefest 2012, September 23rd. In my opinion, it was one of the most meaningful performances in the programme of the event series. After the performance, an expression was born in my mind, which I think can express what the piece was about: it was like a kinetic painting of a ‘vocal desert’.
A woman standing on the stage, naked, locked within herself, tense with repressed musical notes, performing the tragedy of muteness. All of her muscle fibres and joints shivering with the voice that was broken into her body. Even though she is naked and exposed, she is standing firmly on her feet, her limbs, her stomach, her chest and her fists are tense. 

Singing with her face and her body, the artist is performing a physical aria in a series of poses, the transition between which is slow, delicate, fluid, liquid. One time she is standing in a pose of surrender; later, broken by the weight of voicelessness, she changes to a sort of Terminator-pose. Standing rooted to the spot, her facial expressions reach up into an ethereal highness of invisible musicality; it is like she is torn between our world and another world from which only she can hear the music.

This brings me to the main question that bothered me throughout the piece: is she really the one who is mute? Or is the audience deaf? Is it her who cannot convey the voice developing in her throat, or are we incapable of receiving her message, of tuning in to her frequency?
The tension is intensifying throughout the piece, but there is still not a single note that leaves the lips of the performer, even saliva comes sooner than sound. 

Then, at the end, we can hear music playing, and, at the same time, the space is darkening. The piece reaches its climax, we can hear the well-known chorus of “I will always love you” by Whitney Houston. However, by this time the stage is completely dark, there is no singer to be seen, only her voice to be heard, which is greeted with thunderous applause.
How tragic, isn’t it? We want the artist to be heard, we want her to sing for us, we want her voice to be ours, even if it costs the life of the source. We celebrate the apocalypse of this sound of no light, of the end of voicelessness, not realizing the tragedy of the singer: that she would rather evaporate than lock her beautiful voice away from the audience. That she would rather continue her journey in this vocal desert than deprive us of a single drop of water coming from her musical oasis.

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